Young Money: Fortune favours the thrifty

One of a series of blogs from real people sharing real experiences, observations and advice about being good with money.

Amelia Petrovich is a part time waitress and full time uni student at AUT in Auckland. Originally from Wellington, the 20 year old moved to Auckland to complete a Bachelor of Communications degree and is currently in her second year of study.

When I left high school and staggered wide-eyed and confused into the real world, I was told that my uni years would be the years which defined me as a person.

Three years on and that notion, though every bit as terrifying as it ever was, has actually rung true. The ways I’ve changed as a University student are vast and profound. I have morphed from a coffee person to a tea person and back again approximately a billion times, dyed my hair both bright red and dark purple in the space of two months and learned how to (almost) function on two and a half hour’s sleep.

As impressive as these personal metamorphoses are however, my biggest achievement has been cultivating a manic self-pride in my own ability to thrive in financial disarray. Whilst some have in fact called me ‘stingy’, I prefer to describe myself as ‘an opportunist’. I have learned to scour my surroundings for freebies, remaining constantly vigilant incase a chance to save a few cents should miraculously arise.

You see, for me to be actually stingy I’d first need to have money to horde and withhold from the world. This is simply not the case, most of the time I seem to be more broke than a pre-election campaign promise. Therefore, I reckon that ‘opportunistic’ is a far more accurate depiction of the lifestyle I now lead.

Being an opportunist is a trait that comes to govern just about every faction of your life, particularly when it comes to social situations. Gone are the days where I would be too shy to ask a friend for a lift to the other side of town. Cheaper than a taxi with petrol I don’t have to pay for? Consider me buckled in already! And hey, while you’re at it would you mind terribly if I stuck my new bed in the boot so I could shift it to my new flat? Please and thank you, you’re a gem.

Living on a freakishly tight budget also has done wonders for my drinking life in that I don’t drink… ever… unless we’re talking about good old, free of charge H2O. My skin is thanking me, my wallet is definitely thanking me and, because I hardly ever bring ‘Drink-Lots-Of-Wine-And-Try-Singing-To-A-Large-Audience-Amelia’ to the party, my friends are probably thanking me too. That being said, my sober resolve is not absolute either. As an opportunist, one must also be constantly on the look out for friendly people in social situations who aren’t adverse to drink sharing. The more I do this, the more I believe it’s a foolproof party strategy too. Free Corona and a newfound buddy to share it with? Awesome.

To the uni budget novice this all may well sound somewhat pathetic but I assure you I’m in no way deserving of pity. You see, what I’ve lost in cash over the past few years I have replaced with a somewhat frenzied passion for making every cent stretch as far as possible. Nowadays for me even traveling, a traditionally self-indulgent activity has become a mad search for budget hostels that are happy to also provide breakfast for free. Heck, I’ve even been motivated up off my couch a few times because running in the park is a hell of a lot cheaper than joining any form of gym!

In the end, university won’t really define you but being broke will. Adulthood may mean coming to terms with the fact that you’re stingy, but true maturity comes when you realise you aren’t stingy at all… you’re a flipping genius.

If you are studying or training and want to know how BNZ can help you manage your money, read more about our tertiary benefits for students and apprentices.